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Emilia Romagna: Bologna or Parma base? Rent car or train?

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Hello
We will be 3 nights in E-R and love food! have searched Chowhound for food sites and are looking forward to this part of our trip.....We hope to do various day trips - Ravenna, Parma, maybe Modena or Padua and are looking for the best base.

In Bologna, any comments on the Hotel Porta San Mamolo? Hotel Metropole? or the B&B Antica Case Zucchini? I am a bit picky about nice clean rooms w/ decent beds.

In Parma, Looking at the Palazzo della Rosa Prati. Also have considered the Hotel Posta in Emilia nella Reggio.

We will be in Florence before, and go to Venice after this. - so would consider renting a car for the 3 nights that we are in E-R. Is this wise, or are trains the best bet? If car, where would you suggest renting it and dropping it off?

thanks!!

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